CLIFTON PARK — A personal run of nine straight points from Shenendehowa junior Kaleigh Montanez in the second half helped the Plainsmen pull away from Averill Park Friday night in a Suburban Council matchup between two of Section II’s top teams.
Montanez hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left in the third quarter to give Shenendehowa a six-point lead, then scored the first six points of the fourth as the Plainsmen never looked back in a 66-50 win.
“She just went on her own little personal run that kind of gave us some breathing room,” Shenendehowa coach Joe Murphy said of Montanez’s effort.
Averill Park brought a No. 5 ranking in the latest Class A state poll into the game and Shenendehowa was ranked No. 3 in this week’s Class AA state poll. Before Montanez took over, the game looked ready to head to a fantastic finish. Averill Park had cut the Plainsmen lead to a single point at 39-38 on Bailee Lange’s 3-pointer with 1:18 left in the third, but, after a driving layup from Jillian Huerter, Montanez followed with a 3-pointer to start her personal scoring surge.
“My teammates found me in the high post, and I was able to make some buckets off of it,” Montanez said. “There were nice assists by a lot of people on the outside.”
Shenendehowa (7-0) jumped out to a 15-6 first quarter lead, and Averill Park (7-2) headed into halftime down 32-21. The third quarter, though, mostly belonged to Averill Park, which outscored Shenendehowa 17-7 before the Plainsmen scored the final five points of the period.
Montanez finished with 21 points, including 16 in the second half. Huerter dropped in 18 points with junior Bri Carey adding 16 on the night.
Averill Park was led by Ameila Wood’s game-high, hard-fought 22 points.
Murphy’s decision to move both Huerter and Montanez to attack from the high post paid off late.
“We tried to collapse the defense, kick it out to our shooters — and if they didn’t collapse, we were able to make plays from the high post,” Huerter said.
Murphy said he impressed upon his players the importance of a game against a high-level opponent such as Averill Park.
“I said, ‘Girls this is why you put the Shen jersey on. It’s not to win by 50, 60 points; it’s to play a great Friday night game against a team like Averill Park,” Murphy said.
Averill Park 6 15 17 12 — 50
Shenendehowa 15 17 12 22 — 66
Averill Park scoring: Lance 5-2-13, Veradi 1-4-6, Tune 1-0-2, Dawson 2-0-5, Wood 5-10-22, Wohlleber 1-0-2. Shenendehowa scoring: Huerter 6-6-18, Montanez 7-4-21, Carey 6-0-16, Wilders 1-0-2, Delisle 2-0-5, Cozzens 2-0-4. Scoring totals: Averill Park 15-16-50, Shenendehowa 24-10-66.